Right after the festive holiday season, the industry and the adults behind it swarm to the Consumer Electronics Show—a veritable buffet of high-tech eye candy where we can all be dreamers and imagine the future.

jumping sumoAny sci-fi aficionado like me, will tell you that the future is here. Robots made a big splash, like the Jumping Sumo from our client, Parrot—but also robots and tools that integrate technology in products we use daily that can help us with very practical aspects of our lives like caring for our aging parents or washing our windows. But with this helpful technology, comes a pivotal question—how much privacy are you willing to forego in the name of convenience? It’s clear that the Internet of Things—putting even the most insignificant of things online and connected—is not just a trend, it is the way our lives are headed and with it comes some challenges.

Head scratcher: are technology companies turning a blind eye and a deaf ear to concerns about privacy? As technology is woven within and among our daily living our habits can be dissected and studied so that not only marketers, but government offices and possibly even our employers know minute facets of our lives.

According to a recent Pew Research study, 50 percent of Internet users are worried about the information available about them online, up from 33 percent in 2009. Meanwhile, 86 percent of people surveyed have tried at least one technique to hide their activity online or avoid being tracked, such as clearing cookies or their browser history or using encryption.

Without a stated privacy policy, trust is eroded. With the onslaught of integrated technology those who are facing public scrutiny of its privacy practices (or non-practices) are now clamoring for privacy guidelines. In a rare turn of events, Ford’s Chief Executive Officer Alan Mulally said the automotive industry needs legislation to protect drivers’ privacy as more cars utilize data for location tracking and other services. Pause: a very large, very public company asking for regulations and rules—talk about calling out the elephant in the room!

Trust is the very foundation from which a solid communications strategy grows. Customers need and demand to have their interests placed first. The heart of communications is building a brand reputation and occasionally protecting a business from itself. A slick new technology should be fun not frightening. Your communication strategy, narrative should focus on the customers, otherwise you could get lost or misunderstood. Just getting publicity and attention is easy, the trick is controlling the message. The treat? Stellar results, recognition and brand loyalty.

 

L. Haran

Leah Haran is the Senior Vice President at Airfoil, an integrated marketing communications firm with offices in Silicon Valley, Detroit, London and Hong Kong. Connect with Leah on LinkedIn.